☆ Chapter 97
儿 | er | (lit. child) diminutive marker used as a form of endearment
One of Ruan Zhu’s hands pressed down on Nuan Chun’s wrist to prevent his blood from continuously flowing out while her other hand tightly wound a handkerchief around his wound. Seeing that he was still bleeding, she hurriedly ripped off a corner of her skirt and wrapped it multiple times around his hand until the blood finally stopped spilling out.
Her eyes flashed with clear worry. If by chance a major artery had been cut, it would be disastrous as he could lose his life in fifteen minutes. Were the medical skills of the ancient era advanced enough to be able to suture blood vessels? No, Nuan Chun would surely not die–there were so many with broken arms and broken legs who were able to live well afterwards. Wasn’t it just a wound to a blood vessel?
Nuan Chun saw his master was in a fluster but smiled instead, revealing joy from the bottom of his heart. At last, she was willing to be worried for him! He smiled until his eyes were just small slits: “It is all right, Eldest Miss. There is no need to worry, I am not in much pain.”
“How is this just a matter of pain?” Unshed tears were in Ruan Zhu’s eyes. This fool; did he not know how frightening an injury to an artery was?”
To be able to receive this amount of care from her! At this very second, Nuan Chun felt that even if he were to die in this moment, he would be willing.
Next to the window, Ruan Yu had been so frightened by this spectacle that she jumped up in fear and quickly left her spot to aim a hateful kick at the corpse on the ground that remained motionless.
“This shameless and vulgar bastard! He’s finally dead and have actually saved us the trouble of him being a wedge in our hearts, but he died a little too easily.” Ruan Yu finished her curses and lifted up Nuan Chun’s wrist for a look: “Most of the bleeding has stopped and it should be fine now. We’ll have a physician look at this when we return.”
Ruan Yu said everything lightly but Ruan Zhu remained uneasy. Saying goodbye to Feng Qing Bai, she led everyone out of You Xiang Pavilion.
The mission to look for Shen Zhong Yun ended in failure. A short while after they had returned to Guan Ju Villa, Zong Zhi and Min Zhi, the two brothers, rushed in with Imperial Physician Zhang. As soon as they entered the room, the men anxiously looked their wife up and down and omly simultaneously released their breaths after seeing she was all right.
Imperial Physician Zhang performed the rites to Ruan Zhu and asked: “Niangniang, who is it that has been injured? Please take this lowly one to the patient. All of this noise has rather scared this lowly one.”
“It’s Nuan Chun that has been injured. He is inside; I’ll take you there.”
“It is enough for Xing Yun to guide Imperial Physician Zhang.” Zong Zhi grabbed his wife’s arm and directed his words towards Imperial Physician Zhang and Xing Yun.
In the hearts of these imperial princes with a dragon’s gall and a phoenix’s marrow, a slave becoming injured as a result of protecting their master was something that was only right. Even if the servant then lost their life, it was considered part of their duty. It was the same as a lord demanding that his subject die–the subject had no choice but to do so. All subjects were faithful patriots; servants and slaves were loyal and protected their masters–Since time immemorial, these sentiments were heaven’s law and earth’s principle.
The room quieted and Zong Zhi pulled his wife into his arms and hugged her for a long while: “There are so many imperial bodyguards in the residence so why did you not bring some for protection?”
“I am not harmed. In order to protect me, Nuan Chun’s wrist meridian was cut.” Ruan Zhu sought refuge in Zong Zhi’s arms. Uncontrollable tears slid down her eyelashes and she sobbed: “I’ve always regarded him as an older brother. We’ve been together for so long, it’s best if nothing bad ever happens.”
Zong Zhi gently stroked his wife’s back: “It is all right. A cut to a person’s wrist meridian is not enough to cause death. At most, he may become handicapped but we can just support him in the future.”
Ruan Zhu was still not yet relieved. She wanted Nuan Chun to be fine with not even the slightest disability.
“I went to a brothel. Being overt by taking along so many guards will turn me into a joke.” She glanced at the two of them and hastily explained: “I was not strolling through the brothel out of fun; I had something to take care of, really. I’m not that lewd.”
“I know, I know. Do not be so worried, I understand.” How could Zong Zhi not understand the root of the issue? The people he had raised in his Tian Wang Embassy were not useless.
Min Zhi pulled her from Zong Zhi’s arms and sat them both down on a taishi chair. Looking at his wife’s sparkling and pure appearance, he couldn’t help but to reproach her: “We had just left court when Brother Fei sent over a message. When we rushed out of the south gate, we received yet another notice that someone had been injured. You don’t know how worried we were. Passing by the imperial hospital, we coincidentally met with Imperial Physician Zhang, who was just leaving, and took him along with us.”
“Ai, I’m fine. It was just a false alarm.” For them; for the far-flung Yun Shi Yi that was navigating the seas; for the blood-soaked Yun Shi Wei who was fighting bravely on the battlefield; and for her children, she must properly live.
“I don’t care. Zhu’er, I received a shock today so you must accompany me tonight.”
“It seems to not be your turn yet?”
“Then let’s do it together. It’s not like we haven’t done that before and I don’t mind.” Min Zhi tightly held his wife, refusing to let go, and angrily complained: “The feeling of an empty room all to yourself is unpleasant and really makes one want to die.”
“I think the five-day period is too long, Wife, why not cut it down to three days? And the fourth day could be one that we all share?” Zong Zhi’s voice chimed in from the side in support. But none of them had even considered their wife’s opinion!
Ruan Zhu’s face was entirely gloomy. Being hemmed by an entire group of husbands–when all was said and done, was that being fortunate or unfortunate?
“It’s decided.” Looking at the moist and red lips, Min Zhi immediately felt thirsty and lowered his head to plant a kiss down.
“Cough cough……” Imperial Physician Zhang coughed as he walked in.
Ruan Zhu stood up from Min Zhi’s lap, embarrassment on her face. This old physician often came to her residence and had unexpectedly seemed to have started taking it to be like his own home to enter without even knocking. “Imperial Physician Zhang, how is Nuan Chun’s injury?”
“It is not a major worry. His artery has been injured but it is not very deep and has also not been severed. Although his wrist will no longer be as nimble as before after it has healed, it is not to the point where he will be disabled.”
Ruan Zhu’s heart that had been suspended with worry finally relaxed as she had been precisely worried that he would become handicapped: “I’ll go look at him.”
Nuan Chun’s room was in the courtyard neighboring Yi Zhu Cottage, through a winding corridor, and then past a moon gate. The courtyard was packed full of all kinds of Chinese peonies and this was currently the seaon where they bloomed. The expanse of flowers created a scene that warmed the heart and delighted the eye, and as a result of a light drizzle that had just fell, the flowers contained sparkling crystal water droplets, bringing about a burst of vitality and emitting a quietly captivating fragrance that assailed one’s nose.
“Niangniang has come, Brother Nuan Chun, niangniang has come to see you.” Xiao Shi Zi walked out of the room carrying a basin of water. Seeing Ruan Zhu, he put the basin down and performed the rites.
Xiao Shi Zi was someone that Ruan Zhu had bought from a human slave trader during that time they had just returned to Lan Zhou for the purpose of attending to Nuan Chun. “Go on with your work.” Ruan Zhu directed a sentence towards him and directly entered the room.
“Eldest Miss?” Nuan Chun had lost a lot of blood so his mind was a little hazy. He was drowsily lying in bed as he had been roused by Xiao Shi Zi’s voice and now attempted to get up and put on his shoes.
“Don’t move.” Ruan Zhu pressed him back down on the bed. Looking at that face devoid of color, her heart tightened: “Hurry and lie down. I’ll have Imperial Physician Zhang prescribe a blood-boosting medicine for you later. Eat more ginger, tuckahoe, and Chinese knotweed and properly take care of your body. Then I’ll have the kitchen simmer chicken soup to make up for all the blood you’ve lost.”
“Eldest Miss, I am fine. Protecting one’s master is a slave’s duty.”
“Nuan Chun, remember this–you are forbidden from calling yourself a slave in front of me in the future and must address yourself as ‘I.’ Do you understand?”
“Eldest Miss, how can that be allowed? This slave does not dare.”
“Just like that–you are forbidden from calling yourself a slave. If you continue, I’ll be unhappy and you don’t wish for me to be upset, right, Nuan Chun?”
Ruan Zhu took off her shoes and got on the bed, wriggling inside his blanket.
“Eldest Miss, you……” Nuan Chun was struck with panic.
“Hush, don’t speak. I’m tired from being out for so long. Let me lie down for a bit.”
Nuan Chun could only accompany his master and laid down on a corner. Last year when they were in the capital, he had also shared the same bed with his master several times. But after she had given birth and also received the Prince of Yong, Min Zhi, he no longer lived the good life.
When Xiao Shi Zi carried a bowl of medicine inside, she easily accepted it and instructed Xiao Shi Zi: “Wait until the evening meal and bring my portion here. I will eat together with Nuan Chun. Return to Yi Zhu Cottage and pass on my message to the two princes–I will retire in Nuan Chun’s room for the night so they can sleep by themselves.”
Xiao Shi Zi responded in agreement and left.
Ruan Zhu picked up the spoon and ladled some of the medicine. She placed it next to her lips to test the temperature and then sent it to Nuan Chun’s mouth……
Nuan Chun appeared very unnatural. To him, his dignified and noble Eldest Miss coming over to see him was already the result of all the good fortune accumulated from his past life. Seeing her holding the bowl of medicine, he couldn’t help but feel there was something wrong with his limbs: “Eldest Miss, Xiao Shi Zi taking care of me is enough. If the young masters are unable to see you, they will be anxious……”
“The children will be fine if they don’t see me for one day and the Princes will also look after them. Be good and listen. Your hand can not be casually moved so let me feed you.”
Nuan Chun could only open his mouth and swallow spoonful after spoonful of the incoming medicine. The decoction was bitter but he felt that it was incomparably sweet and his eyes shined brightly. He felt the injury he had received this time had been paid back tenfold and it was worth it, too worth it.
That night, Ruan Zhu slept in Nuan Chun’s room, hugging him as she fell soundly asleep. It was only at night when she heard a weak and trembling sound and woke up. Rubbing her eyes, she lit a lantern and saw Nuan Chun seemed to be enduring something at all costs, with his legs tightly squeezed together. She thought a bit and suddenly realized: “You want to relieve yourself, right?”
Nuan Chun’s entire face was red: “Please call Xiao Shi Zi over.”
“It’s the middle of the night so wouldn’t it be terrible to call him?” Ruan Zhu found a chamber pot underneath the bed and moved to pull off his trousers so that he could relieve himself. When nurses tended to their patients, didn’t they all do this? She would just take this to be one of her nursing responsibilities.
“Eldest Miss?!” Nuan Chun was a little stunned. What kind of person his Eldest Miss was, he was more clear than anyone. She had mysophobia and usually felt uncomfortable if there was even the smallest mud stain on her clothes. For her to actually hold the chamber pot and help him……Was it possible he had slept until he became foolish and was now seeing an illusion?
“It’s nothing, hurry up and pee. If you hold it in for too long, it’ll be uncomfortable. That…….you don’t have to wear the chastity belt in the future. You’ll suffer in the hot summer.” Fortunately, it was metal and mostly netting so it didn’t interfere with showering or urinating.
As Nuan Chun listened to the tinkling sound of water, his ears flushed red all the way to their base from shame and from the smell. After he was finished, he didn’t dare lift his head.
Ruan Zhu carried the chamber pot towards the bathroom in the back of the room and closed the door securely before walking back to the bed. Seeing Nuan Chun clumsily tying his belt with one hand, she kneeled beside the head of the bed and attentively tied it for him, mumbling: “Actually, not wearing pants is fine as you’re still wearing the chastity belt. It won’t do for me to eat you.”
Nuan Chun was speechless when in actuality, that was his biggest wish. She had better eat him and to the point where nothing was left.
Ruan Zhu found a towel and wet it before wiping her hands clean. She also did the same for Nuan Chun before climbing back into bed, cuddling against his chest and entering dreamland.
This was the night where Nuan Chun, based on his memories, slept the soundest.
During the day, Ruan Zhu was the same in managing the household duties and looking after the children. If she had free time, she would go visit Nuan Chun and would conveniently stay there at night. This happened for three nights in a row and her two husbands finally got tired of it and demanded their share of her favor.
As a result, Ruan Zhu became like a paper carousel lantern as she rotated among them. However, Nuan Chun could fortunately act as her safe haven–whenever she was unable to bear it any longer, she would come over to Nuan Chun’s place to hide away, causing Nuan Chun to feel a little fear in his heart whenever he came across the two men. Despite being afraid, he did not regret in the least of being together with his master.
One night, just as Zong Zhi suggested, the three of them slept together.
Having been successively embraced by Zong Zhi and Min Zhi, her tired body had gone through bouts of physical exercise and was covered in sweat. She weakly laid between the two men: “Big Brother Lu, Min Zhi, I want to request a vacation. After everyone has had their turn, I’ll rest for three days. Always being eaten here and there by you guys will tire me out.”
“A century of cultivation let us board the same ship and cross the river; a millennium of cultivation let us share a common pillow in sleep.[a] The Heavens called for us to be bound together in this life; how unlikely is that? We ought to properly cherish their actions. Wife, do not make rude demands.”
“What Zong Zhi said is correct. Zhu’er, don’t be unreasonable.”
“Who’s being unreasonable? You each get three days so is me asking for three days off excessive?” Ruan Zhu fiercely shot back.
“It seems it is not excessive.” Zong Zhi thought for a moment and muttered in response.
“Then it’s decided. None of you can go back on your word.” A smile sparkled on Ruan Zhu’s still-red cheeks and her bright and twinkling eyes were like stars, revealing her happy mood.
Zong Zhi tightly held her two arms and squeezed: “Since my wife likes it, I will give you a vacation period. However, the three day period is not after everyone has had a turn; it is three days every ten days. We will do it like this, no objections.” He stiffened his face, using the imposing air of a generalissimo.
“Then Zhu’er, I must take advantage of you not having gone on vacation yet and eat to my fill.” Min Zhi sat up and took his wife from Zong Zhi’s arms, letting her straddle his body just like the first time they did it……
Zong Zhi came behind his wife and hugged her, his hands winding around her as he caressed her torso. Pulling her head over, he kissed her lips…….Passion like fire, their entire bodies ignited with desire, and she suddenly regretted her proposal.
Zong Zhi held his daughter in the garden as they basked in the sun. His son already knew how to madly run around but his daughter was still like a lazy pig. His two hands supported Bo Ya as she walked a dozen or so steps. After a while, she tired and sat on the ground, refusing to stand up. Zong Zhi could only coax her by carrying her and looked towards the side of the pond where Zhi Xi was playing with Nuan Chun, his eyes thoughtful. “Wife, you are not thinking of accepting Nuan Chun, correct?”
“He saved my life.” Ruan Zhu looked at the smiling Bo Yu who could now run and jump. Time indeed passed by fast; the child had already learned how to scamper around.
Nuan Chun’s injury had healed but his fingers could not bend, causing him to be unable to exert force and he could no longer do many things. She also refused to let him work for a living and massaged his fingers every day, hoping that doing so could restore his hand’s functionality.
“I know. But yesterday, Prime Minister Wang brought up his son again to me. Wife, Mister Wang has also saved you before……”
“How is that the same?” Ruan Zhu rolled her eyes at him: “It’s not like I’m familiar with Mister Wang. Nuan Chun has been with me since we were both small.” It was actually the year this body was fourteen that they became familiar, but saying that they had been together since small was also not wrong.
“But Mister Wang is familiar with you. Perhaps you have never noticed, but every time you went to the palace to pay respects to Emperor-Father, he saw you. Every single poem you have written, he can recite them all without missing a single word.”
[a] A saying that means, a conjugal union between a man and a woman is difficult to achieve. A mortal person being able to share a pillow with their loved one in this current life was the result of finally able to exchange a millennium of good deeds done in their past lives.